The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) asked members of Parliament and provincial assemblies on Monday to submit the annual statements of their assets and liabilities by September 30.
In an official notification, the commission said that in accordance with the law every sitting member of the National Assembly, Senate and provincial assemblies has to submit statements of assets of not only themselves, but also of their spouses and dependents.
Since there is no mechanism available to the ECP to verify these statements, the practice has so far remained a cosmetic exercise in accountability. However, if implemented properly, the procedure can deter widespread corruption.
The law states that “where a member submits the statement of assets and liabilities under sub-section (1) which is found to be false in material particulars, he may be proceeded against under Section 82 for committing the offence of corrupt practice”.
If followed in its true spirit, any member found guilty of corruption may be disqualified from their office.
The statements of assets and liabilities have to be published and any citizen can obtain a copy after paying a prescribed fee.
The law also states that the ECP should, by October 15, provide names of members who fail to file statements of assets and liabilities within the period specified. They should also direct that such members cease to function in their respective posts until a statement is submitted.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2012.